Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gentleman Architect Peter Pennoyer

It's one thing to chat via email with a fabulous designer or just post images of their work that you love but it's quite another to get invited to their office to speak with them in person! When architect Peter Pennoyer did just that recently, I jumped at the chance! Peter is known for his classic style but when you really delve into it and learn more, you realize that it's actually quite inventive.

Peter studied at Columbia and Columbia Graduate School and while there worked for Robert A.M. Stern but established his own firm in 1984 after graduation. He showed me one of his first projects and it was much more modern than his current designs but every designers eventually finds their way.

Peter not only practices architecture but writes books, gives lectures, champions preservation and reads a lot! It's always a pleasure to meet anyone in the creative world who is passionate about their chosen path and it is clear just from the bookshelves of the office that he is just that.

One of the things I found interesting is that not only does the firm embrace hand rendering and still create watercolor drawings but they also embrace technology. One of their programs for computer rendering is the same that Pixar uses! The three dimensional images were so real looking that I thought they were a photograph at first. It is certainly easier to fine tune a design before the construction begins and the advancements are amazing!

Another interesting fact I learned was that the firm creates many of it's own designs for mouldings and other architectural details. They may look to the past for inspiration but they are creating the future and also in the way that certain architectural elements are manufactured such as stair rails and grates. I really hope I have the chance to attend one of Peter's lectures because I know they must be fascinating!

I don't know if everyone knows that Peter Pennoyer and interior designer Katie Ridder are married and actually share office space on the same floor. There can sometimes be issues and friction between architects and interior designers when they work on projects together and Peter and Katie are lucky that they can seek advice from the other when they face these kinds of situations. They also have been lucky to be able to work with each other on some very beautiful projects.

You can always get a sense of a designer or architect's style from their work place and Peter's office is as you would expect, very well designed and full of wonderful details. I loved all the hand drawn renderings, watercolors and models that lined the back walls.

It was clear from meeting Peter that he has a profound respect for the history of architecture and design.

One thing that I thought was so interesting is that Peter sometimes makes up stories about a certain buildings that he designs that create a reason as to why the design might have elements from different periods, such as someone built the home in one style and then a subsequent owner added onto it later in a different style.

One of my favorite quotes from his website is the following, "We don't practice architecture by the book. We know the book. We know, say moldings and cornices so well that we can hold the pattern book stage, which is what frees us to be imaginative in our responses."

I wish I could have stayed all day and looked through the vast library of architecture and design books! I'm sure there are some amazing treasures along those walls!

What stuck me as interesting is that the bookshelves that Peter designed were very modern and simple didn't have any details.

Wouldn't you just love to sit in that chair and pull a book out and read. In the background is Peter's office that he shares with his partner.

I loved that the red leather chairs in the conference room related back to the red in the library when you opened the door.

There were beautiful details around every corner and in this little niche. It was truly a pleasure to meet Peter Pennoyer in person and talk about design and I really appreciate the time he took out of his busy day to meet with me. I hope you will check out more of his work online. I know once you do, you will be even more impressed and inspired!

On my way out, I was able to pop into Katie Ridder's office and say hello to Laurie Reynolds. My favorite color is orange so I loved the pops of orange throughout the small office.

Anyone who has worked in an interior design office knows that fabric samples are the bane of the existence of anyone who has to keep them organized so I was very impressed by this wall, and not at all surprised that Laurie is the one that keeps it looking so good!

I hope you enjoyed this profile and tour as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you!


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